Thursday, September 29, 2011

Grab Bag II.

A mix of things. If you need more, you can go here.

-I received a Groupon notice today for 61% off a psychic reading. Would anyone redeeming this really be all that impressed by any of the psychic's findings? "She knew I like value and savings! How did she know that?!"

-Speaking of value and savings, has anyone seen Extreme Couponing on TLC? I'm disturbed by how many people on that show stockpile diapers even though they don't have children.

-The $5 donation for a chance to win dinner with President Obama has been reduced to a $3 minimum donation. The fine print of this fundraising tactic points out that the dinner has been changed to a six inch sub from the original Footlong.

-I'm offended when people in front of me at the grocery store checkout put one of those separator things on the conveyer belt. I feel like they're implying something when they do that. Either that I'm an idiot and won't be able to tell when my single half gallon of almond milk has disappeared, or that I'm trying to cheat them in some way. I almost always have to stop myself from saying, "Hi, I'm not trying to steal from you. Or have you buy my groceries. How could I possibly benefit from you taking the things I need home with you?"

-As I ate my third donut of the morning today, I started reading an article about cooking oils you should always avoid, but then decided against it.

-The fact that pretty much NO ONE in the mainstream media is covering the Occupy Wall Street protest is insane. If there were thousands and thousands of cats gathered together in lower Manhattan, every news outlet in the world would be there. It would be the last minute spotlight of every evening news broadcast in the nation.
"And finally tonight, look at all these cats! Man, cats are weird. Good night, everyone."
Has America lost its taste for revolution? If YouTube and viral videos existed in Colonial times, would we even be a nation today? Or would John Locke have been too busy with the kitten on a treadmill link to think of anything original. If the media won't cover a group of people crying out for social, political, and economic change, we owe it to ourselves to take notice and support them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good Point, Andy Rooney.

Andy Rooney will be leaving 60 Minutes after 300 million years on the air. He'll be missed... by someone... maybe.

Perhaps it's a generational thing, but I never considered any of his observations to be clever, or thoughtful, or enjoyable. I think I saw a segment once where he went off on pencils. Thanks for that important piece on why you hate everything, Andy!

Andy Rooney is like a rock star for the old people who always send their soup back at restaurants. These types of people don't need a rock star, because they most likely hate their rock star. Regardless of age, people who love to complain only love that-- to complain. The fact that Andy Rooney was elevated to some sort of cultural icon just by ranting about things that annoyed him doesn't make any sense. Where Seinfeld was able to make "It's funny because it's true" observations, Andy Rooney always just made me mad. After all of his 60 Minute segments I would end up yelling at the TV, "We get, Andy! You hate everything!"

Gah! I've been Rooneyed! I'm ranting about Andy Rooney. Not cool, I'm sorry.
But I suppose a 300 million year career is to be celebrated. Congrats, Mr. Rooney.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


As an unknown author and unknown person, really, it's hard to create and maintain buzz about the book Open-Eyed Sneeze through this blog alone. Social media is obviously a tool, but facebook changes everyday and my twitter account seems to be followed mostly by porn spam and restaurants. Not exactly my target audience.

So what's a girl to do?

Ideally, I'd like Open-Eyed Sneeze to be the go-to gift for graduates. How many of you received Oh, The Places You'll Go! for graduation? I'm guessing a lot. I have three copies of that book. But if people are going to know about Open-Eyed Sneeze by May, I have to get the word out on my end. In an effort to do this, I'm starting something new and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if you could be a part of it.

Here's what's up:
I'm starting what I like to think of as the Tupperware Party of the indie-publishing world. I'm calling it, "The Open-Eyed Sneeze National Living Room Book Tour."

Here's how it works:
You're a friend of mine, or get in touch with me, and you invite some buddies over. I show up with books, a case of domestic beer, and stories. The evening can be set up in anyway you like.
-If you're inviting your book club/writing pals, we can talk about the book, or the publishing process, or writing, or anything.
-If you're inviting friends and just want to drink the beer I bring, we can chill.
-I can perform what's known to no one as sit-down comedy, which is basically just me talking on your sofa, trying to come up with a routine as I go. (I've done this for my grandma and she lurves it. It hasn't been tested anywhere else.)
-These can be like mini-launches, a way for me to meet new people around the country, spread the word, and write along the way-- A new blog will document the tour.

What do you think? Is there any interest in this at all? I'll be putting up a list of possible tour cities and if you live in one and think you might want to get in on the fun, let me know. All living room tour groups will have their own featured post on the blog, and, um, the beer.

I realize the goals of this are a little vague right now. But that hasn't stopped the thousands of people currently camped out on Wall Street. Sometimes, it's just nice to get together!

Feedback greatly appreciated.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What, What, What Is Happening?

I saw an advertisement for Sauna Pants. Sauna Pants.
I am without speech.

Please add these to the original list found here.

Big Buck Hunter World Championship!

You read the title of this post correctly. Big Buck Hunter, the bar game that you know and love, has a WORLD Championship. When I heard that the Championship is held in Chicago every year I thought, hmm, that's neat. But when I found out that Jesse P had qualified and was competing for the ladies title, my head nearly exploded.

I should note that I have a long history and supreme respect for World Championship titles. Growing up my mom would influence us to do pretty much anything by telling us we were competing for the World Championship. Although she also persuaded my little sister to bathe by dropping Double Dare references and asking her if she accepted the "Physical Challenge." The Physical Challenge was just using shampoo. But I digress.
Anytime my mother tired of playing Connect Four with me or my sisters, she would say in a very slow, very serious tone, "OK. This last game is for the World Championship Title. Champion of the World. One last game."
These were big moments in my childhood.

So knowing that Jesse was competing for an actual title, in pretty much the most awesome event ever, made the Big Buck Hunter Championship a must-see. I can honestly say, it didn't disappoint.

Before heading over to the Cubby Bear where the event was held, Katie and I made t-shirts to show our support. Technology has improved almost every facet of our lives, but nothing says "We're here for you!" better than a handmade t-shirt.
Mine was an epic fail. Obviously.

Jesse got us in as VIPs which was hilarious and awesome so we drank and ate for free, and took way too many free BBH beer koozies and wrist sweatbands, which Katie ripped off after five minutes, exclaiming, "It's too hot in these!" Ah, yes. If only Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Titanic had had a few wrist sweatbands to stay warm.

The atmosphere in the bar was incredible. People dressed in random shit, photographers, videographers, people being interviewed, just an amazing vibe leading up to the start of the competition. I was literally making myself sick with excitement (and free quesadillas) and couldn't stop smiling.

Jesse's friend Mary was also competing so we knew TWO possible champions! When I asked them why they didn't dress in camo, they replied that they wanted to stand out. Great line. They were both calm and collected while I freaked out as their player profiles came across all the tv screens in the bar.

Mary actually took out the top-ranked girl in the 1st round and it was such a huge upset that she got cheers and up-top high fives from everyone in the bar. It was insane!

Jesse dominated round after round and ended up placing 4th! In the world. It.... was awesome.

It was such a blast and Mary and Jesse were both stars. Congrats you guys!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blank Stare: Park Bench Edition.

Two separate stories here from two different park benches.

The first comes from an old man sitting on a park bench smoking as I jogged by:
Old man: Run faster!
Me: [Blank stare.]

The second involves me sitting on a park bench reading and a man with a bag of peanuts and seeds coming up to stand right next to me before throwing handfuls of nuts around my feet.
Me: [Blank stare.]
Man: [Blank stare. Throwing stuff.]
Every pigeon and squirrel in the park: Oooh, free shit by that girl's feet! Let's ride!
Man: [Walks away, leaving me surrounded and trapped by park critters.]
Me: [Blank stare.]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Really, Footloose Remake? Really?

Note: For full dramatic effect please listen to this song while you read.

Just saw a trailer for the new Footloose movie.
"Footloose 2: My Foot's Still Loose?" you ask.
No, kind reader. Not Footloose 2. Just regular old Footloose. Actually, the same exact Footloose you saw in the 80's only with a new cast and dancing scenes pulled from Stomp The Yard instead of Grease.

Other than that, everything is the same. Everything.
Storyline? The same.
Dancing away frustrations in an abandoned building? The same.
Old VW bug? The same.
This one freaking killed me! When I saw that the character in the remake was driving the same old yellow bug that Kevin Bacon's character drove, I couldn't effing believe it. I suppose it's better than the bad-ass renegade outsider driving a more current VW Bug, putting flowers in his little cup before tearing up the town one pop-lock-and-drop move at a time. But still. They couldn't change one thing in the remake?! Seriously? The freaking bug had to stay?!

It's slightly upsetting that an entire generation of youngsters is going to think this is the Footloose that we're talking about when we talk about Footloose. It's not. And if the makers of this film were willing to use the same VW bug but don't include "Let's Hear It For The Boy" during the learning to dance montage, I will get up and walk straight out of the theatre. Because let's be honest, I'm obviously going to see this.

Friday, September 16, 2011

How To Succeed At A Craft Fair Without Really Trying.

I normally don't get into crafts at all. After I met Amy Sedaris and dropped $30 on her craft book for poor people I realized the irony. I hate crafts and $30 was way too much to spend on a book that reminded me of that, particularly because I was totally poor.

As previously mentioned, I hit up a craft fair last weekend with two buddies from my hometown. There were artists peddling all sorts of handmade clothes, jewelry, posters, and cards. You have to be a very judicious shopper at craft sales. Surrounded by crafts and craft enthusiasts, anything knitted seems completely necessary. It's like when you're on a beach vacation and think getting your hair braided is a good idea.

Obviously, there were a lot of birds on things.

But Suzanne also noted how many words were on things. "So many words!"
If you planned your outfit accordingly, you could have a message on everything you were wearing and holding.

If you want to succeed at a craft fair just put one of these things on something:
-A bike on something
-A whale on something
-An animal wearing a suit on something.
-A Mustache/beard on something. (Seriously, people? Still not over this?)
-An eyepatch on something
-A Chicago flag on something
-A random food item like a Pop Tart on something

I say, be bold! Put a single sideburn on something! A pogo-stick! Buffalo's city flag! (It's pretty sweet, look it up.) Or do whatever you want, I guess I don't really care. Just stop making totes.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Your Clever Names Aren't Fooling Anyone.

Dear Nail Polish,

Who do you think you are? $8.50 for half an ounce?! Do you realize a gallon of paint costs $35 but a gallon of nail polish would cost $2,176? Do you think you're better than paint?! You are paint, motherfucker. Nail paint! You probably show up to your paint family reunions and speak in a slightly different accent than the last time you all met up, correcting everyone any chance you get.
-Jack! How the hell are you?
-It's Jacques, actually. You don't know Jacques.

Do you know you're pretty much the most unreliable paint there is? You smudge, chip, run-- if actual paint did that we would have to paint our rooms like 73 times a year. And you're the reason toe-separators exist! The fact that I just had to type out "toe-separators" and people will know what I'm talking about is ridiculous! Aren't you embarrassed?! Have you no shame, Nail Polish? Have you no shame at all?

Fries Are Ready!

When I was in high school, bowling was a gym unit. It was a coveted gym unit. And why wouldn't it be? Because what would you rather do? Change into nasty gym clothes to run, orrr keep your normal clothes on, take the bus over to Brockport Bowl, and hang out with your friends for 80 minutes?

Brockport Bowl was a local business that had clearly worked out some sort of deal with the school to convince educators that an increased heart rate could be achieved with 10 frames of alternating turns to toss a ball. Plus, the bowling alley was only about a mile from our school and we easily could have walked over there but we always took a bus. It was like the entire unit was challenging us to move as little as possible. AND they opened their snack bar during gym class hours. So the first thing everyone did after getting their shoes was place an order for mozzarella sticks. Hearing, "Fries are ready!" over the speakers at Brockport Bowl is so engrained in my mind that I can't look at anything related to bowling without saying it.

I took a lot of bowling units.
When I first started, the idea was that we would learn how to keep score. But with the introduction of electronic scoring, all there was left to do was laugh, eat fries, and try to get a strike bowling lefty with a 6-pound ball.
I have NO idea how bowling continued to be a part of our physical education.

Anyway, I bring this up only to highlight the mysteries that surround bowling alleys and their ways of operating. A few months ago we stopped at a bowling and found their hours to be:
Wednesday: 8:30-11:30 AM
Thursday: 12:30-4:00 PM
Saturday 6:00-9:00 PM.
Nothing says rise and shine quite like an 8:30AM bowl.
And is it 1:00 o'clock on a Thursday? Grab your 9-pounder! Let's hit the lanes.

Also, I found a bowling alley in Chicago the other day on the second floor of a building. Who's genius idea was that? The retail/restaurant space below it was totally vacant with a sign saying it was available for lease. Go figure. I'm semi-tempted to open up a place called "Fries Are Ready" but I think that would be too large of an investment just to tip my hat at an old high school gym joke that only I would appreciate.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FOR-EV-ER Stamps.

Newman: Oh, calm down everyone. No one's cancelling any mail.
Kramer: Oh, yes I am.
Newman: What about your bills?
Kramer: The bank can pay 'em.
Newman: The bank. What about your cards and letters?
Kramer: E-mail, telephones, fax machines. Fedex, telex, telegrams, holograms.
Newman: All right, it's true! Of course nobody needs mail. What do you think, you're so clever for figuring that out? But you don't know the half of what goes on here. So just walk away, Kramer. I beg of you.

Recent news that the US Postal Service is struggling with $9 Billion worth of debt can't really come as a surprise to anyone who has ever waited in line at the Post Office. In the time that it took me to buy a book of stamps (27 minutes) I was able to figure out what seems to be escaping the higher-ups at the USPS: Postal Employees are no dummies. These workers understand that the mail NEVER stops. If they were to move at a rate that kept up with demand, they'd have one really long-ass difficult workday, everyday. They know that no matter how slowly they move, people will still come. It's actually a brilliant little system they've worked out for themselves. Except the whole part about the inefficiency bankrupting the entire Postal Service.

In the 27-minutes I waited to buy stamps, four customers were served. This was one exchange I overheard:
Customer: Hi, I was in here yesterday. Do you remember me?
Postal Employee: (Taking her time like examining a line-up) That box you're holding looks familiar. And so do you.
Customer: OK, because I wanted to send this to California, you see? To this address? But it arrived at my house today.
Postal Employee: (Slowly got out of her seat like she'd been dipped in wet cement. Picked up the box and examined all six sides of it. Took off her glasses, looked at stickers, put her glasses on, tapped her fingers on the box)
Me: [Blank Stare.]
Postal Employee: Sir, what's happened is that you wanted to send this box to this address here, but they've actually sent it to your return address. They sent this to you.
Me: [Deep Breath.]
Customer: Yes, that's exactly what happened.
Postal Employee: So would you still like it sent to California?
Customer: Please.

To his credit, he was very, very patient.
I think the only way to calmly wait at the Post Office is to assume that you're being filmed for some sort of John Quinones Primetime special.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Shall We? 2.0

Back in 2008, I wrote a post about dance shows because I couldn't believe how many were on the air. Back then the list included:
Dancing With The Stars
America's Best Dance Crew
America's Best Dance Crew Season 2 (But shouldn't it actually be called America's Second Best Dance Crew?)
Step It Up And Dance
So You Think You Can Dance?
Your Mama Don't Dance
Dance War: Bruno vs. CarryAnn
The Deadliest Dance on the Discovery Channel
Ice Road Dancers
Law & Order: Flap Ball Change Unit
Iron Dance America
How I Met Your Dancer
My House is Worth Dance?
And Dance Dance Dance Dance Dance which is currently in pre-production
Since then, we can add to the list:
Dance Your Ass Off
Dance Your Face Off
Dance Your Ass Face Off
Who You Calling Ass Face?: Dance Off Challenge 3000
Dance Moms
Live To Dance
Born To Dance
Die Dancing
Paranormal Dance on A&E
Dancing With With The Sharks- Shark Week Special
Hoarders Dance Edition: Shoes, Leotards, and No Room To Dance.
Nathaniel from Yo Gabba Gabba now has his own reality series
and Ellen.

It really annoys me when people say there's nothing on TV. Clearly, they're not looking hard enough.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Lied.

So I know I said this article by Chamber Four was the book's first review, but that wasn't entirely accurate. I met up with some of Brockport's finest over the weekend to walk around a craft fair in beautiful Wicker Park and I was reminded that Suzanne actually gave me my first review...AND my first (and youngest) fan! Not only was this the nicest email I've ever received, it was also far and away the cutest.

Thanks again, Suzanne!


I hope I can say this without sounding like a big giant weirdo...

#1. Attached are pictures of my daughter..which as you can see, is your youngest, yet biggest fan :)

#2. So I taught for 8 years and couldn't get enough of taking classes about reading and writing. I went through the National Writing Project (not saying this for you to be all, "Wow Suzanne, you have really gone places after that Europe trip", but wanting you to know that I feel like I know what I am talking about when it comes to this stuff.

One of my favorite authors is Ralph Fletcher. I love his writing and his writing about writing. He tells kids, "Writers don't live extraordinary lives, they just look at life in an extraordinary way" He always talks about the way writers notice the world around them...THAT is what makes them a writer. Those words have helped me create lots and lots of little writers in this world...

Long story long, you ARE this quote. I am only 3 chapters in to open eyed sneeze, and am so impressed by the way you notice and express your "noticings". Amazing. Extraordinary. absolutely love it!!!!

#3. I am thrilled for you and hope that this is just the beginning of a very successful writing career!!! apologies if I sounded like a weirdo, but big-ups, Martin!!!

Open-Eyed Sneeze- It's hilarious!

It's surprising!

It's thought provoking.

Friday, September 02, 2011

It's Not A Great Story.

I haven't gone shopping in a long time but lately I've noticed that the new big thing with salespeople is to ask you why you need the clothes for which you're shopping. All of a sudden you have to have some sort of story to go along with your need to buy a shirt. I encountered this a lot when shopping for book events. I'm terrible with small talk and have trouble believing that perfect strangers care why I'm doing anything, so I always hated these conversations.

Salesperson: What are you shopping for today?
Me: Clothes.
Salesperson: Have a special event coming up?
Me: Well, yeah actually. I published my first book and I'm having a party.
Salesperson: Well belts are 30% off. Let me know if you need a different size.
I have no idea why they engage you in conversation only to redirect whatever you say to accessories.
Also, I sincerely dislike shopping. Trying on clothes is bad enough but walking in malls past the five million different smells makes me sick. Bath and Body Works, Abercrombie smell, Cinnabon (totally acceptable), Yankee Candle, perfume counters. If you were to lead a blindfolded dog through a mall they would eventually learn how to talk and say, "I have no fucking clue where we are." And now, on top of everything else, I have to explain my reasoning for being in a store.
Salesperson: What are you looking for today?
Me: My daughter. I lost her six years ago and I think she might be in the dressing room. Excuse me.

Anyway, this was an exchange I had with a store employee today:
Salesperson: Hi, there! Can I help you find anything today?
Me: I don't think so, but thank you.
Salesperson: Well are you looking for anything in particular?
Me: Pants.
Salesperson. OK, great. Why do you need pants?
Me: To go out in public, mostly.